It's time to grab your bag, put on your slippers, wear your sunglasses, load your (water) gun and fly to Thailand. Coz it's time for the ultimate joy of April given the 2-weeks long event known as "Songkran" festival (a.k.a. "Thailand New Year" based on local astrological calendar) and a week-long public holidays (official date : April 13th-15th of every year). Celebrating with a water splash nationwide phenomena and a traditional moment to spend with family / paying respect to the elders as a blessing to begin a new refreshing year.
The word "Songkran" was originated from Sanskrit language pronounced as "S-kran" means "moving forward" or "new dawn of the beginning" of the year. Hence, Songkran festival is a very old tradition full with spirit of believing in new good things for Thai people early every year.
"MahaSongkran day" or "the great Songkran day" in ancient time is the first day of waxing moon which occurs during November to December to be counted as Thai New Year. However, it has been changed to April 13th during the reign of King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) and later becomes an official date which is mostly remembered by Thai people ever since.
"Songkran Goddess" in ancient time is the seven prophecies which changes every year following the date of MahaSongkran day
Tungsatavee - Goddess of Conquering (Sunday)
Korakatavee - Goddess of Power (Monday)
Raksatavee - Goddess of Joy (Tuesday)
Montatavee - Goddess of Wisdom (Wednesday)
Kirineetavee - Goddess of Tradition (Thursday)
Kimitatavee - Goddess of Wealth (Friday)
Mahotortavee - Goddess of War (Saturday)
In 2017, Songkran Goddess was named "Kalkineetavee" wearing bracelets and Montha flower, furnished with emerald, eating sesames, right hand holding a hook, left hand holding a gun, sleeping on an elephant and bringing rains to earth.
And these are things to do during Songkran festival:
Splash water - An icon of Songkran festival for fun and joyful moment. Splashing water usually starts on April 13th (in some place like "Khaosan road" may start since April 12th night). The water may be lightly mixed with perfume powder in some occasions.
Paying respect to the elders - It's a belief to bring a set of clothes & towel with incense and flower to be given to the elder as a gratitude. The younger ones will slowly pour the water mixed with light perfume powder on the elder's hands or over their shoulder (that's the reason why clothes & towel have been given earlier). Then the elder will give a blessing for a fresh start of the new year.
Paying respect to the lord of Buddha - Many temples will bring Buddha statue for people who wants to pay respect by pouring water on the statue as a blessing for the new year.
Cats parade - Another belief is to worship the gods with cats parade which will bring the rain for agriculture throughout the year. Nowadays, this tradition still continue in some provinces to bring fun and joy along with water splashing all the way.
Building sand castles - On any day during Songkran festival, people usually bring sands into the temple to build up sand castles for fun. This activity is meant to give back to the community as the sands will be used to repair roads and public places after the festival.
Chao Sua - Coconut Crispy Roll Pork
Thailand's favorite yummy crispy snack
Last but not least, we have highlighted key areas of Songkran events throughout the country in the year of 2017 below for you to check them out.
[Bangkok province] Bangkok Songkran Festival 2017 @ Central World | April 13th - 15th | an alcohol-free event in front of Central World department store connected with BTS Chidlom station with only a few walk
[Bangkok province] Songkran Maysa Pakawma Yok-Siam | April 13th - 15th | an event which invites you to wear out traditional Thai dresses to enjoy splashing, shopping and eating throughout Siam Square from 12:00-18:00 hrs all free
[Chonburi province] Building sand castles at Bangsaen | April 16th - 17th | along Bangsaen beach includes paying respect to the monk in the morning, sand castle competition during the day and prepare yourself for water splashing event til the end
[Pattaya city] Wan lai at Pattaya | April 18th - 20th | along Pattaya beach includes paying respect to the monk in the morning, paying respect to the elders, building sand castles, watching traditional shows, selecting Miss Songkran and water splashing
[Khonkaen province] Songkran E-san under Coon flowers and the sound of Can | April 5th - 15th | along Sri Chan road includes MTB bicycle tour, Petanque championship, watching traditional shows, Songkran parade and the world's record of largest human wave
[Nakhonphanom province] Songkran Nakhon Phanom Thai-Laos new year celebration | April 11th - 15th | along Khao Pun road, includes traditional market along Mekong river, watching traditional shows and selecting Miss Songkran
[Nakhonsithammarat province] Mahasongkran Muang Nakhon | April 12th - 15th | at Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan temple includes traditional food, watching traditional shows and Miss Songkran parade
[Hatyai province] Songkran midnight Hat Yai 2017 | April 11th - 13th | along Simila beach includes paying respect to the monk, paying respect to the elders and water splashing
[Phuket province] Songkran on the beach | April 12th - 13th | at Loma park and the port of Jungceylon department store includes traditional buddha parade, paying respect to the elders, watching traditional shows and water splashing
[Samutprakan province] Songkran Phrapaedaeng | April 22nd - 24th | at Phrapaedaeng city hall includes Miss Songkran parade, watching traditional shows and water splashing
[Suphanburi province] Mahasongkran at Suphanburi | April 13th - 14th | along Cholpratan canal includes watching Songkran parade, selecting Miss Songkran, local concert and food festival